The Bears Roam Free in Asia

  • Share
  • Read Later
When most gamblers go on a losing streak this long, they quit. Despite slight recoveries in late trading Wednesday, the markets of Asia are reacting dourly to the arrival of bears on Wall Street. Singapore's Straits Times Index is at a ten-year low. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, down 21 percent in the past three weeks, hasn't been this sickly in five years. There's little chance of traders in the region going window-jumping any time soon -- the slump has gone on so long, their mood has settled into serene acceptance.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Fortune Investor Data
Still, that doesn't mean there isn't room for optimism. In Japan, the yen rebounded somewhat against the dollar -- from 147.61 to 146.16 -- reflecting hopes that Prime Minister Obuchi was planning to step in with a care package for the troubled currency. And not a moment too soon. "More needs to be done in Japan," said Australian PM John Howard in a blunt radio interview Wednesday as Sydney stocks took a plunge. Put Howard's desperation down to the one hard fact of Asian economics -- no-one can recover until Japan does. Not even Wall Street.